Realtors Association of Maui
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Safety and SCAM Alerts
This page is dedicated to help RAM members be aware of safety issues and fraudulent schemes.  To report potential safety issues and /or scams, contact the RAM Staff at Info@RAMaui.com.  RAM encourages you to protect yourself and your clients by going to NAR's REALTORS® Safety page:  http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety

Phishing Scam (Feb 2017) Woman Displaying Erratic Behavior
(Aug 2016)
Man Making Improper Advances (Dec 2016) Sophisticated Email Scams
Targeting the Real Estate Industry
 (Dec 2015)
Ransomware Viruses (Feb 2016) Man of Questionable Behavior
at Open House
 (Dec 2012)
Who Should I Notify About
Fraud or Scam Attempts?
 (Ongoing)
Rental Scam on Craig's List (Ongoing)

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Phishing Emails Targeting REALTORS®

February 2017

Phishing Emails Targeting REALTORS®

Criminals are using the identity of Realtors® to send fraudulent emails offering referrals to other real estate agents. The emails will include fake contact information. Those that reply to the email receive a link that is supposed to contain details about the referral, but is probably a computer virus that will allow scammers to collect passwords and other personal information.

If you receive this email – or any – email scam, report it as spam. Do not reply to it or click on any links in the email.

Always use caution with any email you receive, even when it appears to be from someone you know. If you’re not expecting the email, use the Find a REALTOR® search on ramaui.com and verify that the contact info in the email matches the info on RAM’s database. If the email you received has different information, report it as spam and contact the agent in a new email to let them know you received the false email.

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Man Making Improper Advances to Female Agents

December 2016

REALTOR® SAFETY ALERT

RAM has received reports from female agents regarding a male open house visitor who makes improper advances to them verbally and through text messages. This has happened at open houses in the Kihei-Wailea area and possibly on the West Side.

Description of the man and his behavior:

● About 5'9", medium build, long grey hair, appears to be in his late 60's

● Drives a white Toyota Prius. Is boisterous and shares a lot of "extra" information

If you come into contact with someone matching this description and feel threatened, take immediate steps to protect yourself and call 911.

Further, we suggest that you file a police report by calling 244-6400.

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Woman Displaying Erratic Behavior 

August 2016

REALTOR® SAFETY ALERT

RAM has received a number of reports, from both male and female agents, regarding a female buyer who has displayed highly erratic behavior bordering on violent.

Description of the woman and her behavior:

● Female, about 5'3", average build, "Blondish" hair, heavy European accent

● Says she is a cash buyer and tries to purchase property without proof of funds

Follow your intuition and safeguard yourself and your clients.

Talk to your Broker for advice.

If you ever feel physically threatened, take immediate steps to protect yourself and call 911.

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Ransomware Virus 

February 2016


Be aware of the new Ransomware viruses that have resurfaced in the last couple of months. Ransomware encrypts most of the files on your computer and network as well as deletes all backup files, leaving you without any recovery method other than to pay the ransom (ranges from $700 to $1500 per computer). Read more about the history of the Ransomware virus.

Backing up files using good backup software is a MUST. Check out the following onsite and cloud generational backup software:

Acronis Backup
Nova Backup
Genie Backup

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Sophisticated Email Scams Targeting the Real Estate Industry

December 2015


Criminals are hacking into the email accounts of real estate agents or other persons involved in a real estate transaction and using information gained from the hack to dupe a party into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hackers often send an email that appears to be from an individual legitimately involved in the transaction, informing the recipient, often the buyer, that there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions. Following the new instructions, the recipient will wire funds directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

In the next two weeks, real estate professionals will be contending with high transactional volumes during year-end closings. This is a busy and hectic time for real estate professionals, and many millions of dollars will be sent and received via wire before the end of the year. This is exactly the environment in which online criminals seek to operate.

The National Association of REALTORS® urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud.

In May 2015, NAR issued an alert regarding a sophisticated email wire fraud hitting the real estate industry.  Since then, the incidents of online scams targeting practitioners have continued to rise but the advice is the same.

Bottom line: Do not let your guard down.  Start from the assumption that any email in your in-box could be a targeted attack from a criminal.


PREVENTION

Follow this guidance to avoid becoming a victim:

- Immediately contact all parties to all of your upcoming transactions and inform them of the possibility of this fraud. Attorneys, escrow agents, buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and title agents have all been targeted in these scams. You can also download and distribute NAR’s online fraud prevention handout, accessible here.

- If possible, do not send sensitive information via email. If you must use email to send sensitive information, use encrypted email.

- Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money must call the intended recipient to verify the wiring instructions. Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.

- Do not trust contact information in unverified emails. The hackers will recreate legitimate-looking signature blocks with their own telephone number. In addition, fraudsters will include links to fake websites to further convince victims of their legitimacy.

- Never click on any links in an unverified email. In addition to leading you to fake websites, these links can contain viruses and other malicious spyware that can make your computer – and your transactions – vulnerable to attack.

- Never conduct business over unsecured wifi.
 
- Trust your instincts. Tell clients that if an e-mail or a telephone call ever seems suspicious or “off,” that they should refrain from taking any action until the communication has been independently verified as legitimate.

- Clean out your e-mail account on a regular basis. Your e-mails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you. In addition, a longstanding backlog of e-mails may contain sensitive information from months or years past. You can always save important e-mails in a secure location on your internal system or hard drive.

- Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure your employees and licensees do the same.

- Never use usernames or passwords that are easy to guess. Never, ever use the password “password.”

- Make sure to implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies in your business.


DAMAGE CONTROL

If you believe your e-mail or any other account has been hacked, or that you or a client has otherwise been a victim of online fraud, you should take the following steps:

- If money has been wired via false wiring instructions, immediately call all banks and financial institutions that could possibly put a stop to the wire.

- Contact your local police.

​- Contact any clients or other parties who may have been exposed during the attack so that they take appropriate action. Remind them not to comply with any requests from an unverified source.

- Change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that you believe may have been compromised or otherwise made vulnerable by the attack.

- Report any fraudulent activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigations via their Internet Crime Complaint Center. More information can be found by clicking here.

- Brokers should report any fraudulent activity to their state or local REALTOR® association so that the associations can send out alerts or take other appropriate action, including contacting NAR.

- This advice is not all-inclusive, and real estate practitioners should work with Information Technology and cybersecurity professionals to ensure that their e-mail accounts, online systems, and business practices are as secure and up-to-date as possible.


Be aware that these emails are extremely convincing. Many sophisticated parties have been duped. No one should assume that they are “too savvy” to recognize the fraud. In addition, no one should assume that they are “too small a target” to be on these criminals’ radars. This fraud is pervasive, convincing, and constantly evolving.


For more information on this and other cyberscams, as well as further information on cybersecurity best practices, visit these resources:

http://speakingofrealestate.blogs.realtor.org/2015/05/19/alert-wire-fraudsters-targeting-real-estate-transactions/

http://www.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/protecting-your-business-and-your-clients-from-cyberfraud

http://www.realtor.org/articles/request-to-redirect-funds-should-trigger-caution

http://www.realtor.org/topics/data-privacy-and-security

http://www.realtor.org/topics/risk-management

http://www.realtor.org/articles/internet-security-best-practices

http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety/articles

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Man of questionable behavior attends Open House:
December 2012

REALTOR® SAFETY ALERT
CAUTION TO REALTORS® HOLDING OPEN HOUSES

We have received reports regarding a man with a frightening demeanor attending open houses of female agents in the Kihei area.

Description of the man and his behavior:
The man is tall, big, African American, bulging eyes, rides a bike, wears a fanny pack.

He enters open houses and makes a quick check of the unit. If other people are present, he just hangs out -- seemingly waiting for the others to leave. He may ask a few questions about the unit. While settling in & making himself way too comfortable, he has talked about the law, his DUI conviction, and his work in restaurants. He takes business cards of the agents & fliers on the unit & puts them in his fanny pack without reading them.

The female agents have had a very uneasy feeling about the man. We recommend that you use extreme caution if a man matching the above description attends your open house.

If he shows up & you feel threatened, we recommend that you take immediate steps to protect yourself & call 911. Further, we suggest that you file a police report by calling 244-6400.

RAM encourages you to protect yourself & your clients
by going to NAR's REALTORS® Safety page:  http://www.realtor.org/topics/realtor-safety

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Rental Scams on
Craig's List:

Ongoing problems...

The house you have listed for sale may be "for rent" on CraigsList without your knowledge!

NEW NOTE: Scammers are also targeting VACATION RENTALS by posting properties on VRBO that are listed on the MLS. Scammers post the vacation rental with an enticing rental rate and provide instructions on where people should forward their money. Upon checking with the listing agent, you will learn that the home is NOT for rent – vacation or otherwise!

Scam incidents are still occurring on CraigsList regarding properties listed for sale in RAM's MLS appearing on CraigsList "for rent." The person posting the rental information is frequently from out-of-country and either asks to be contacted, asks that money be forwarded to them, or posts the address of the home & interested tenants start knocking on your seller's door.
This scam is occurring nation-wide, not just on Maui.
The perpetrator is stealing RAM's MLS information, and distorting and misrepresenting it to the unsuspecting public. The rental, of course, turns out to be a total scam with no knowledge of the "rental" by either the property owner or selling agent. If you receive rental inquires on a home that you have listed - and you know the home is not for rent - BEWARE!
Report any such activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at: www.ic3.gov
You should advise CraigsList and flag the message for deletion. Unfortunately, CraigsList emails notification to the person who originated the message and they may very well re-post the message. Keep flagging it for deletion by CraigsList.

Also, you may want to consider making your own entry on the same property at an even lower rental amount (so it appears at the head of the list) & enter wording similar to: "NOT FOR RENT (or NOT A VACATION RENTAL) - THIS IS A SCAM. The property located at this address is FOR SALE. See MLS# _____."

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Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?


Below are telephone and websites to help fight fraud.

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Realtors Association of Maui, Inc.
441 Ala Makani Place
Kahului, Maui, HI 96732
Phone: (808) 873-8585
Fax: (808) 871-8911
Email: Info@RAMaui.com